Sunday, February 17, 2013

TOS Review: Flowering Baby

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If you're looking for a simple and effective way to incorporate organized activities with your young children, Flowering Baby, LCC may be the curricula for your family. 

The goal of Flowering Baby is to develop a solid foundation for each child.  It was designed by Martha Saunders, a homeschooling mom, based on the Classical, Charlotte Mason and Unit Study philosophies.  All child developmental areas, cognitive, language, gross and fine motor, social, emotional, and self-help competence, are covered throughout the curricula.  In addition, many activities are designed to improve thinking skills and to increase emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence includes logical thinking, intrapersonal, body kinesthetic, interpersonal, and linguistic skills. 

 There are five volumes available for different ages: 


Each volume can be purchased separately on a CD, ranging from $30 to $38, or you can save 20% by purchasing all five volumes for $132. 

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My preschooler, who recently turned 4 years old, has always wanted to be part of our school day.  Trying to find age appropriate material can be very time consuming, uses a lot of printer ink, and keeps me up with my laminator way pass my bedtime!  I've been searching for an easier way to preschool at home.  I was thrilled when given the opportunity to review Volume 5: Four to Five Years, mainly because I was hoping that the author had completed all of the work for me, which would result in an earlier bedtime for myself!

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Volume 5: Four to Five Years curriculum is divided into two parts, the Monthly Curriculum Guide and the Theme Curriculum Guide.  

What's included in the Monthly Curriculum Guide?

   

  • Twelve printable months, organized by calendar months, of age appropriate activities, including math, language, science, music, and physical activities.  I appreciate the way it's broken down into months; therefore, you can start at any time throughout the year.
  • Each month includes ten to fifteen days of activities.  The goal is to complete all the activities within the month.  I like that there's a backbone, but not a rigid schedule to follow.  Each day's activities take approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.
  • At the beginning of each month, there is a page listing all supplies needed, suggested books, music, and websites, and holidays for the month.  
  • Lastly, there are Learning Through Story pages for a variety of books woven throughout each month.  Each story page consists of questions to ask your child regarding the book and a craft and/or activity to complete.   

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How did we incorporate the Monthly Curriculum activities into our homeschooling day?

I would suggest reading over the daily activities and brainstorming ways to carry out the activities before beginning.  Most of the activities are open-ended; therefore, you will need to have an "idea" of how to complete the activities in a way that best fits your child learning style and gather the needed supplies.  

In addition, I would make a trip to your local library and get all the suggested books!  The book selection is fabulous.  I was able to find most of the books at our local library.  Don't forget to check out the books on tape selection, too!  Our library has many children's books on tape, which can really bring the story alive! 
 

We began with the month of January, which included thirteen days of activities.  Mac completed these activities three days a week for four weeks, averaging 45 minutes per day.   There were four to seven activities per day to complete, varying in subject matter.  

Here's a glimpse of some of the thirteen days worth of activities for the month of January. 

"Day 1, ABC's: Sing the ABC song. Practice writing A,a.  Look for items that start with the letter 'a'."

"Day 13, ABC's: Practice writing M,m. Look for items that start with letter 'm'."

  Throughout January, Mac practiced signing her alphabet song.  In addition, each day, she practiced learning to write a new capital and lowercase letter.  By the end of the January curriculum she was writing letters "A" through "M".  

Writing capital letters on the dry-erase board.

"Day 9, Math: We like to count while we march around the house, but whatever activity you think is fun add counting and see how high you can go." 

 Mac practiced writing numbers 0 to 9 throughout the month, as well as counting from 1 to 40.  She used a variety of manipulatives. 

Counting and transferring Cheerios. 

"Day 10, Math: Count 1 to 30. Have your child work two puzzles, one easy and one more difficult. Only help as needed." 

Working number puzzle to encourage number recognition.

"Day 4, Spanish: Read the book to your child having your child repeat the Spanish words after you."

"Day 11, Spanish: Ask your child to tell you the words he remembers in Spanish as you turn the pages.  Correct him as needed." 


My favorite part about the curriculum was the suggested book selection, as many fabulous books were suggested. 

"Day 1, Blue: Read book.  Dress all in blue for the day.  Play 'I spy something blue' around your house.  Color a picture only using shades of blue crayons."  

We read the suggested book, Blue Sea, and she colored the fish picture that I found and printed off the Internet. 


"Day 3, Three Billy Goats Gruff: Read story. Draw a picture of this story. After reading the story have your child tell you the story."

Mac enjoyed listening to this book on tape, over and over again!  She had a great time drawing the picture and acting out the story. 

 

 
"Day 5, Cold Days: Read The Snowman and complete the Learning Through Stories page.  Using dolls you have dress them for the cold weather.  If you don't have dolls dress yourself.  Discuss the clothing we wear on cold days and why." 

The Learning Through Stories page included five questions regarding the book and a simple snowman craft.

Question #1: What color hat and scarf did the snowman wear?  Green

Question #5: What happened to the snowman in the end why did that happen?  He melted because the sun came out. 

Learning Through Story page craft

"Day 7, Blue: Read Blueberries for Sal and complete the Learning Through Stories page.  Paint with different shades of blue.  Eat blueberries and try to name other blue foods.  Write the word 'blue'."

The Learning Through Stories page included eight questions regarding the book and suggested making blueberry pancakes for the activity.

Question #2:  What year do you think this story was written?  I don't know.

Question #6: Which picture in the book is your favorite, why?  Blueberry Hill because I like to eat blueberries.   

Learning Through Story: Blueberries For Sal

Other suggested activities for different subjects:

"Day 4, Phone number: Tell your child about '911' and repeat the number with him several times.  Explain that in an emergency if he needs help he can call '911' to speak to someone who will assist him."

"Day 6, Healthy foods: Read book.  Look through magazines for healthy foods, cut out pictures and paste on paper to make a collage.  Go to supermarket and shop for healthy foods.  Then, with the help of your child, make a healthy dinner for the family." 

"Day 8, Music of the month: Your choice.  Listen to music, don't expect your child to sit and listen to this, just play it in the background while he plays or while you are in the car."

"Day 10, Physical: Work with a ball today.  Ask your child to kick the ball.  Notice if he kicks it using a two-step start.  If not, show him how to place one foot firm and then kick with the other foot.  Suggest he try to use both his right and then his left foot to kick the ball.  Use different size and weight balls for this exercise."

"Day 12, Read: The Neighborhood Mother Goose.  Select several rhymes to read."


If you would like to see a sample of an entire month, please visit Flowering Baby.  

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 What's included in the Theme Curriculum Guide?

 

  • Twelve printable months, organized by calendar months, of theme oriented activities.  There are a total of twenty-four themes.  The suggested schedule consists of  2-3 themes per month. 
  • Each theme has approximately six days of activities.    
  • Within each theme, there is a suggested list supplies, books and websites. It is suggested to read at least one book a day related to the theme.
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 How did we incorporate the Theme Curriculum activities into our homeschooling day?

 The themes for January were Aquarium & Arctic Life and Dinosaurs. 

 Again, I would suggest reading over the daily activities and gathering the needed supplies before starting the theme.  The monthly themes are not open-ended like most of the activities from the Monthly Curriculum Guide.  However, all activities can be tweaked to best fit your child's learning style.  In addition, head to your local library to get the suggested books!  

Mac completed the six days of activities from the Aquarium & Arctic Life in two weeks, working on the activities three days a week for approximately 45 minutes. 

Suggested books for Aquarium & Arctic Life

 Here's a glimpse of some of the six days worth of activities from the Aquarium & Arctic Life theme. 

"Day 1: Look at a globe and discuss the arctic and Antarctica regions relative to where you live.  Read a book about the arctic/aquarium.  Gather toy aquarium/arctic animals, or you can cut photos out of a magazine or draw them on construction paper. Have your child name each animal he knows, and then discuss the ones he was not able to name. Count how many animals you have in total. Have your child sort the animals depending on if they live on the land or in the water, or both. Then count each pile to determine which type you have more of, land, amphibious, or water animals."


The girls separated the polar animals from the non-polar animals. 
 

Once, they had the polar animals, they sorted the animals depending on where they live, on the land or in the water, or both.  


This was a great way to introduce a Venn Diagram to Mac.  



 "Day 2: Read a book about the arctic/aquarium.  Have your child dress as though he were going to visit the arctic. Ask him “What would you need to wear in the arctic and why?”

 It just happened that we had snow on the ground, so it was the perfect day to play and pretend we were in the arctic!


 At the end of the theme, there were four Arctic & Aquarium questions.

Question #2:  Tell me two things that you learned about the arctic.  It's cold and it's at the top.

Question #3:  What is your favorite animal that lives in the Arctic/Antarctica regions, why?  Polar Bears because they are fluffy and keep me warm.



Mac completed the six days of activities from the Dinosaur theme in two weeks, working on the activities three days a week for approximately 45 minutes.  

Suggested books for dinosaurs

Here's a glimpse of some of the six days worth of activities for the Dinosaur Theme. 

"Day 1:  Read a book on dinosaurs.  Make a dinosaur landscape table." 

It was suggested to use wood; however, we recycled a gift box, which worked perfectly for us!   

This was by far Mac's favorite activity in the entire curriculum!  She played with the landscape box every day, while acting out different scenes with the dinosaurs. 



 

Pretending to me a T-Rex! 

"Day 2:  Read a book on dinosaurs.  Using Play-doh have your child make dinosaur eggs and nest."

 

"Day 5: Read a book on dinosaurs.  Using toy dinosaurs (or pictures if you don't have toys) ask your child to separate the dinosaurs into two piles: herbivore and carnivore.  Discuss the differences and what these dinosaurs might have eaten." 





At the end of the theme, there were four dinosaur questions.

Question #2:  Do you think there are any animals living today that are as large as the dinosaurs were?  Nope.

Question #4: Which dinosaur do you like best and why?  I like the T-Rex because it has sharp teeth and eats meat.


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What I liked:
  • It's a simple way to include your younger child in your family's homeschooling day. 
  • The schedule within the curriculum is a good backbone, not a rigid schedule to follow.
  • The materials needed are easy to find, inexpensive and are often already in most families homes. 
  • The activities are open-ended, so I can manipulate and tailor them to my child's learning style and abilities.   
  • Each day's activities take less than an hour to complete. 

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What I would suggest for improvement:
  • More clarification and/or suggested ways to complete the open-ended activities.  I've been homeschooling for several years now, so I'm familiar with how to "manipulate" curriculum to make it work for our family.  If a new homeschooling mom chose this curriculum, I would predict some frustration with the Monthly Curriculum Guide and the abundant amount of open-ended activities.  It would be extremely helpful to include more concrete activities, like the activities included in the Theme Curriculum Guide.   
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In conclusion, I would recommend Flowering Baby curricula as a starting point in order to include your younger child in the family's homeschooling day.

 There are five volumes available for different ages: 

Volume 5: Four to Five Years 

Volumes 1, 2 and 3 contain monthly curriculum guides, progressing in activities with age.  Whereas, Volumes 4 and 5 contain monthly curriculum guides and a theme curriculum guide, containing twenty-four themes.   

*There is a free sample of an entire month for each Volume at the bottom of each page.*  

Each volume can be purchased separately on a CD, ranging from $30 to $38, or you can save 20% by purchasing all five volumes for $132.

Flowering Baby is currently offering a discount!  You will receive a 10% discount by using the code “Blog10” when ordering.

Sail over to read what other Crew Mates had to say about their experience with Flowering Baby.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. 

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